Thursday, October 29, 2015

Swimming Upstream

Procrastination has been making itself quite comfortable in my life lately.

No matter how many noble intentions I hold, they will never translate to one word written on this page.

So this desperately needed reminder from God yesterday?
Your actions will always follow your beliefs.  If you accept defeat, than that is what you will get.

That is a favorite quote from one of my all-time favorite movies, which I have previously quoted here....Facing The Giants.

When I opened my journal back several months and there it was on the page....Bam!  Gotcha!

I thought I'd have all kinds of time to write while I am in Romania.  But guess how that is working for me?  The more freedom I have in my schedule, the more I dance with procrastination and distraction.  A fog of confusion and mental lethargy seems to hang over my mind.  And I begin to crack the door open to listen to the whispers of defeat.

But God.....

My God, in His unstoppable love and extravagant mercy, is not holding the past against me.  Not even my failures of yesterday.  Instead of guilting me, He is cheering me on!  He's saying, Forget yesterday.  Forget what is behind.  Leave it under the blood of my Son.  Move forward today.  Press on to what is ahead!  Never give up to Satan, for he is a defeated enemy!  Never, never, never, never give up!  Don't you make an agreement with defeat.

Because I am greater.  I am greater than your fears of failure, greater than your mental fog, greater than your weariness, greater than your distraction, greater than the perfectionist illusion that paralyzes you....I Am in you, and I Am greater than the enemy of your soul who is doing everything he can to render you unfruitful and ineffective in your knowledge of me and to prevent you from bringing me glory with your life!

He speaks to me in language I understand.  "Kari, don't you put down that pen having done any less than your best.  Don't fear those giants.  Just write for Me.  Give Me your absolute best and leave the results up to Me.  You'll never know how far I can take you until you step out on the water and keep on putting one foot in front of the other, and never take your eyes off Me!"

So this is what I want to do.  God gave me some revelations of His Word during and after my week at the Lamplighter Guild that were amazing to me at the time.  Now I need to recover some of that amazement, and I'd like to invite you to go back with me as I share some of the treasures He gave to my heart.  I hope to make this a series of several posts in the next few weeks.  And you may also see some updates on my experiences here in Eastern Europe sprinkled in for a change of pace!

For our mutual encouragement, I will leave you with the word God gave me as I was embarking on my adventure to Romania, and what I believe He is still speaking into me as I wrestle with the daily conflict, whether it be over my responsibilities here, or my stewardship of the time and resources He gives me, or how to develop the gifts He has created in me, or how to fight my battles in prayer, etc.

"Fear not, for I am with you.  Be not dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."  Isaiah 41:10

Lord Jesus, train our eyes on Your face today.  Take us deeper into Your fullness.  We are Yours. us.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Romania: Settling In

Hello from the other side of the pond, my friends!  Unless you happen to be reading this blog from the same side....which would be totally cool.

So here I am in's already been two weeks!  Thanks to Father for a smooth journey and an enjoyable week traveling around the country.

After resting up a bit from jet lag, I spent the first few days here poring over destinations, travel itinerary, and accommodations with my new friend, Edith.  We set off on a Saturday morning to catch the train that would take us to explore various parts of the Romanian landscape.

Our first stop: Alba Uilia, where we explored an old citadel.  Romania has many such fortress cities, remnants from the old days when this was not one united country and they needed protection from invaders.

 Inside the citadel....the gate.

Orthodox church in the citadel.

We got plenty of exercise and enjoyed a night's stay at a four star was actually quite affordable here!

Then we were off to spend a few days in the Transylvanian Alps region in central Romania.  We stayed in the historic town center in Brasov, an old fortress town built against a mountain and quite a popular tourist destination.  Taking advantage of the free walking tour was a great way to learn about the history of the town, see the main historical sites, and learn about the legends and truth of the mysterious Transylvania and its famed villain/hero, Count Dracula.  

Both Edith and I being lovers of natural beauty over historic, we made sure to take in some of the surrounding mountain scenery.  We did visit Bran Castle, the place made famous by Bram Stoker's Dracula, although the real person upon whom the character is based may or may not have actually ever lived at the castle.  

Approaching the imposing fortress built on a rock.

Inside Bran Castle.

But the best day of all was when we visited Poiana Brasov, a nearby ski resort, and took the cable car to the top of the mountain.  The views were breathtaking!  You'll be seeing a lot of mountaintop pictures on Facebook...being on top of the world always gets me carried away!

The last few days of our trip were spent on the Black Sea coast, walking on the beach and relaxing in our apartment.  We were on a summer vacation strip which was practically abandoned, except for the busy traffic flow....we basically had the beach to ourselves!  There was no swimming, but I may have gotten slightly wet.....

 Captain of me own ship....but I don't think she's goin very far!

Yeah, you have to at least get your toes wet.

It was neat to be able to cross an entire country in a week (without traveling every single day!) and get a varied glimpse of the history and scenery Romania has to offer.  There was much more we could have seen, but I think we got a good sampling.

Edith and I returned from our wanderings on Sunday morning via the overnight train....we crossed from the western border to the eastern in one night!  The last few days have been filled with various things.  I was able to get more settled in at the apartment where I'm living with three girls, and I've had time with the girls' houseparents, Scott and Carolyn, getting up to speed on what I need to know and the responsibilities I will be covering.

Scott and Carolyn left for the States early this morning.  So it's just the four of us now!  I wish I could feel like I have it all together....but I don't.  Maybe I'm not supposed to.  We cling so stubbornly to our own understanding and capabilities, do we not?  I hate feeling helpless, inadequate, being at a loss for what to do or say next or how to plan.  But all the time, God is gently drawing me to look to Him for every need, to trust Him fully, to let go of what control I think I have and depend on Him for everything.  I have a feeling He's getting ready to teach me a lot of this during the next six weeks.  To be honest, this isn't such a difficult place to be in or a huge mountain to simply looks huge when I look to myself.  And I think God uses so many of the "little", everyday kinds of challenges to teach us to move our trust from ourselves to Him.  Sometimes He uses a truly insurmountable obstacle....but more often than not, He is simply teaching us the difference between our perspective and His in the small stuff.  And in truth, as Jesus said, without Him we can do even those little things we think we ought to be able to handle?  We can't even trust ourselves there!  

I will confess to feeling scared in my current position and a bit cut loose in a strange sea....But it is my Heavenly Father who brought me here and I trust His grace to see us through.  Thank you for every prayer on our behalf, as we start to figure out a routine for the next six weeks, and as I seek the Lord to lead me by the free inspiration of His Spirit in doing life here with these beautiful young women.

May the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirits today.